This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

Ad nauseam

There is a common saying, that “you can repeat something as many times as you like, but that won’t make it true.” But a well-oiled propaganda machine makes repetition the measure of true, and we find that ceaseless repetition, while it does not actually make a statement true, can give it the appearance of truth.

The problem is largely psychological: we tend to take familiar things for granted as normal. And so a questionable statement, repeated to the point of numb familiarity, ceases to seem questionable.

One significant example of this process took place during the Middle Ages. At that point in history, universal taxation (collected from each citizen by a centralized government) was largely unknown. If the king wanted to wage war, dower a daughter, or buy a new set of armor, he had to go on a “begging campaign” to raise money for his project, and it was possible to ignore him. You had to pay a tax to the local nobility, but you only interacted with the link directly above you in the social chain. In other words, there may have been municipal tax, but no state or federal tax. It was not completely abnormal to pay something to the king, and in a sense his ‘campaigns’ for special funding were normal—but they were normal as an exception.

Then the Hundred Years War occurred. This “war” was actually a series of many short forays, each inevitably requiring a separate “begging campaign”. The handouts became so frequent that by the end of the Hundred Years War that by the time it was over the people were more than accustomed to regularly doling out money to the king. Thus, what we would call ‘the State’ successfully established the first poll-tax. How did he achieve this? By arguing for financial gifts over and over, ad nauseam, until the request no longer seemed questionable.

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